WHEN Queensland sprinter Toolibuk (Malawi’s Prince x Follow Through Apr ’97) first ventured across state lines into New South Wales, his ‘hit-and-run’ raid happened to be as one of the best eight greyhounds nominated for the 1999 Lismore Cup.
In what was his biggest payday to that point, Toolibuk drew well in box one and, after a slow start, the blue dog charged through the field to take the lead by the home corner in the 512m race and held on to defeat Casual Fox by a head in a fair 29.73 to collect the $8,000 first prize money.
Toolibuk commenced his career on September 12, 1998 at just 17 months of age, winning his first two starts for trainer Roger Green, both over 460m at Bundaberg, by eight and nine lengths respectively.
After two more wins, over 457m at the Gold Coast and again at Bundaberg, over 550m, Toolibuk had his colours lowered for the first time on November 21 when second behind Mossbacca at Bundaberg.
He quickly bounced back, rattling off three successive wins in juvenile races at Ipswich (512m), Toowoomba (457m) and Albion Park (520m). After a third placing at Toowoomba on January 27, 1999, Toolibuk was given a seven-week break.
He resumed in a heat of the Toowoomba Puppy Classic on March 17 and won easily, defeating Crail Raider by four lengths. Despite being poorly drawn in box six for the final, Toolibuk scored by three lengths from Light And Easy to bring home his first major race trophy.
Green kept him racing at Toowoomba and after winning a graded race by 10 lengths he was surprisingly beaten into second place in his heat of the Toowoomba Derby. In the April 28 final he showed his liking for wide alleys by exiting box eight to down As Directed by two and a half lengths.
Four consecutive second placings were to follow, ending with Toolibuk making the final of the Group 3 Queensland Derby and dead-heating for second place with Son Of Iron behind the winner Fiery Asset.
Toolibuk was back in the winner’s circle with two easy wins at Toowoomba, and then a second and a win at Ipswich.
His next five races were all over 457m at Toowoomba and resulted in two seconds and three wins, the last of which was the Michael Miller Memorial Final on October 6 in which Toolibuk exited box eight to defeat the smart Ngarutao by just over two lengths.
Two wins at the Gold Coast were followed by two spectacular victories at Albion Park, by 11 lengths (in 29.97) and just over nine lengths respectively, another win at the Gold Coast and then he extended his winning sequence to eight on end with victory in a heat of the Group 1 Nutrience Cup (now the Winter Cup) on December 9 in a best of the night 30.02.
Drawn in box four for the final, Toolibuk had to be content with second place behind the smart Winged Runner.
Just five days later, on December 21, Toolibuk made his cross-border raid and took out the Lismore Cup but was then a short-priced favourite when beaten into second place on December 30 in Brisbane.
Toolibuk began 2000 with a set of three wins at Albion Park before a fifth placing behind Winged Runner in the Surf Lifesavers Trophy at headquarters on February 10.
That was Toolibuk’s first unplaced run in his career. Toolibuk had registered wins and placings at the first 40 starts of his career, almost certainly an Australian record, surpassing the previous known best of NSW sprinter Holstein Boy, who won or was placed at his first 32 races.
As it happened, Toolibuk was unplaced at his next start as well, at Ipswich, although he did win a heat of the Publican’s Cup at Albion Park before again running unplaced, sixth, behind his nemesis Winged Runner in the final on March 2.
Given a month off racing did him the world of good as Toolibuk racked up four successive wins on his return, at the Gold Coast, Albion Park and then in a heat and final of the 550m Bundaberg Cup.
Taken across the border for only the second time in his career, Toolibuk ventured to Wentworth Park on May 13 but could only manage a sixth placing. He never again raced in New South Wales.
Two victories at the Gold Coast heralded his return but he then tailed the field in a top-grade race at Albion Park.
Green headed north with Toolibuk and picked up a heat and final win in the Cairns Gold Cup over 544m, setting a track record 31.52 in the July 8 final from box eight, running second in his heat of the Townsville Cup (498m) before annexing the final by five and a half lengths on July 27.
He raced just twice more in Queensland, running second at the Gold Coast and sixth behind Winged Runner in a heat of the Brisbane Cup.
Toolibuk was then transferred to the kennels of Darren McDonald in Victoria where he raced with mixed success. He was fifth at Geelong first-up on October 6 and then placed at Cranbourne and twice at Sandown Park followed by two unplaced runs at the latter course.
Toolibuk finally broke through for a win, over 520m at Cranbourne on December 15 and later won over 550 metres at Ballarat.
In 2001 he raced just nine times, winning twice over 545m at Bendigo and later over 515 metres at Sandown Park. In between he was tried over the middle distance 600m trip at the Meadows where he failed twice and ran second once.
Toolibuk’s last start came on March 3 when he bolted away with a six-lengths win over 600m in a fast 34.80. It was a fitting end to what had been a brilliant career.
Toolibuk raced 77 times for 44 wins, 16 seconds and four thirds overall, earning around $87,000 in prize money. At Toowoomba he won 11 of his 16 starts and was placed in the remaining five. At the Gold Coast he registered seven wins and one second in eight outings and at Bundaberg he raced six times for five wins and one second. He won nine of his 18 starts at Albion Park.
His record from the ‘squeeze’ boxes was pretty good with wins at six of nine races from box five and seven wins in 10 attempts from box six.
Toolibuk left Australia to stand at stud with great success in Ireland, alongside his older brother Smooth Rumble.
The 2017 Group 2 Lismore Cup will be run and won on Tuesday night, with several of the leading chances based in QLD.